Editor's Note

June 1, 2012
A couple of years ago, a hygienist stopped me in a hall and asked me about changing the direction of her career ...

A couple of years ago, a hygienist stopped me in a hall and asked me about changing the direction of her career, inquiring of me who she should contact for this and that. I didn’t know the answers to her questions. But I spotted Kirsten Jarvi, a San Francisco-based dental hygienist, studying various items on a bulletin board nearby. I held up a finger to stop the flow of questions, and stepped over to Kirsten.

“Would you mind helping this woman out? She is asking me some questions, and you are probably better suited to answer them than I am.” It was not a complete shot in the dark on my part. Jarvi attends many dental hygiene meetings, so I was aware of her enthusiasm for all things dental hygiene.

Kirsten sat right down and started talking to the stranger. I blissfully went my way. Several hours later, I went down the same hallway, and they were still talking about the woman’s career.

I have no idea if they kept in contact afterwards. But does a chance enounter in a hallway constitute an act of mentoring? I think it does. A definition of mentoring should include the gesture of paying the benefit of your professional experience forward, no matter how brief.

During the next month or so, the power of mentoring will be on full display — in RDH, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s annual session, and the RDH Under One Roof conference.

In this issue of RDH, Lauren Gueits writes (page 20) about her mentoring experience with a new colleague. It’s interesting to observe how the colleague, Cortney, was essentially becoming burned out, even during the early stages of her career. She just needed a fresh perspective, and Lauren’s article primarily serves as a call for more networking and mentoring among hygienists. As you will see, Sunstar Americas responded to that call by setting up the first Sunstar Discovery program in Las Vegas next month.

But, before all of that, we’ll be pausing in Phoenix during the ADHA’s annual session to acknowledge Phebe Blitz as the 2012 Philips Sonicare/RDH Mentor of the Year. Blitz was profiled in the April 2012 issue of RDH. Philips added a twist to this year’s ceremony during the ADHA meeting in Phoenix, naming Winnie Furnari, Nancy Burkhart, and Lynne Slim as “mentors of distinction.”

Slim and Burkhart are familiar to many RDH readers due to the columns they write each month for the magazine. Much of Burkhart’s mentoring occurs through the International Oral Lichen Planus Support Group, an organization she founded. Likewise, Slim interacts with a variety of dental professionals through the Yahoo group, The Perio Therapist.

Furnari, too, has written for RDH, primarily on her special interest in forensic dentistry. But she is a long-time advocate for organized hygiene in New Jersey and New York, as well as on the national level for the ADHA, tirelessly working with numerous hygienists on promoting involvement with the associations.

All in all, an outstanding group of hygienists will be on parade for their mentoring contributions.

If our paths cross, feel free to ask me any question you may have. But the odds are good that I will refer you to a mentor. There are so many terrific hygienists who keep paying it forward.

Mark Hartley
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